Diane M Dickson - Fascinating Crime Drama With a Twisty Plot
Diane M Dickson was born in Yorkshire but grew up mostly in the Liverpool of the Beatles and Ferries Across the Mersey. She is married with two children - one of each brand and two grandsons. After almost twenty years living and working in the Middle East - most of which was wonderful! - Diane moved back to live part of the year in the middle of a forest in South West France and the rest of it in the Midlands of the UK watching Ducks on the canal outside her window. Diane has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember and embraced computers when she discovered that it enabled her to draw straight lines. Diane writes mostly crime novels and police procedurals and enjoys reading the same genre. As our Author of the Day, she tells us about her book, Brazen Escape.
Please give us a short introduction to what Brazen Escape is about.
Brazen Escape is the fourth in the Tanya Miller Series and begins with the discovery of a body in a vehicle that has been involved in a motorway accident. The cause of death, however, is not accidental at all. The novel then follows two young men who are trying desperately to evade capture by Tanya and her team, while the police attempt to untangle the mystery of just what has happened.
What inspired you to use a motorway accident as the catalyst for your story?
We have lived in many different parts of the UK, and now split our lives between UK and France. I often feel that I know the motorways as well as I know the towns where we have lived. I love traveling but am also aware that it can at times store up surprises and shocks when the unexpected happens. Everywhere we go we see Camper vans and I wonder sometimes how easy it would be for someone to hide in one – or indeed be hidden, and the idea grew from there.
Tell us more about DI Tanya Miller. What makes her tick?
Tanya is a loner. She was the second girl in a family where the older daughter was the shining light. Her childhood was blighted by being second best in the shadow of her brilliant sibling. She feels driven to prove herself and has little time for those who seem to have an easy ride. She has problems with relating to others but realizes that she will have to conquer this if she is to reach her goal of being among the top echelon of the police force. Slowly as the books evolve, respect and a liking for her fellow officers is developing especially when she sees honesty, bravery and dedication in others. She isn’t exactly lonely, but she is quite often alone.
How does Brazen Escape tie in with the rest of the books in the series?
All of the books, Broken Angel, Burning Greed, Brutal Pursuit and this one can be read as stand-alone stories but there are common threads running through them. The locations – in the Thames Valley, Oxford and Birmingham. The team, especially Charlie Lambert who we meet in the first book and then moves away but continues to be the closest thing to a real friend that Tanya has. There is a character who we feel would love to be romantically involved and that is something that burbles along in the background. I think one important thing is Tanya’s impatience and absolute determination to get to the truth of issues which lead her into acts that are not always sensible and do take her into dangerous situations.
Why do you write crime fiction? What drew you to this genre?
I read mostly crime fiction and have always enjoyed the genre and to be honest it was never a choice but more an unconscious development of my writing. I have written a romance which did quite well, and I enjoyed that, A Single to Edinburgh. But even in that one, there is a bit of dodgy dealing!
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I can make a mean Victoria Sponge!!
Readers say this book was hard to put down. How did you pull this off?
I love it when readers say that. I do try to keep the action ticking over at a reasonable rate because I think readers of crime fiction enjoy that. I know full well that real life in crime detection is probably not like that but, in fiction we can push the boundaries, can’t we? Also, I hope that readers come to care about the characters and want to know what is going to happen to them next, even the ones who have been guilty of nefarious deeds.
Which of your characters has been the most challenging to write for?
I enjoy writing all the characters in these books and I think the one I have most enjoyed writing has been Brian Finch, an inspector who is the sort of person we all love to hate with his self-interest and swollen opinion of himself. If I had to choose, I think the most difficult has been Suhita Rollinson Bakshi because she is so very different from the way I was when I was younger. She is a bit of a flirt and doesn’t really take her work seriously.
Your characters are so relatable and real. Are any of them based on real people?
That’s lovely to hear, thank you. None of them are based on one real person (apart from when a second cousin was really keen to be included in one of my books so I gave her a part in Tangled Truth) I am a keen people watcher though and I love weaving stories around passengers on trains and customers in cafes and shops and I think that feeds into my writing.
What do you hope readers take away from the novel?
In this particular book I hope that readers will see through the crime to the deeper loyalties between the characters and the strains and stresses that can be put on ordinary people when they are faced with unexpected and dreadful happenings. Often I imagine bad things can be the result of good intentions – though in fairness - murder is a bit extreme!
Do you ever have days when writing is a struggle?
Only in the sense that I sometimes run out of time.
What is an average writing day like for you? Do you have any interesting writing habits?
I try to write between one thousand and fifteen hundred words a day and if that isn’t possible I do at least revisit chapters I’ve already written and do a bit of polishing and tidying.
I help to run a short story website – Literally Stories – which we hope encourages emerging writers – though we do have a number of wonderful experienced authors among the ranks. That takes up a lot of time and sometimes it is a struggle fitting that in with housework, shopping etc and my husband and I do try to get out for a walk every day or at least into the garden. Otherwise, I think there is a danger of becoming completely desk-bound which isn’t a good thing, is it?
What are you working on right now?
I am working on book five of the Tanya Miller series, I think she still has some work to do. It doesn’t have a title yet, though I have a good idea of the plot. Hopefully, my publisher, The Book Folk, will take it on in due course.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I have an Amazon author page and a Wordpress Blog -https://wordpress.com/view/dianemdickson.wordpress.com though, to be honest, that is not as active as it used to be. They can write to me directly at [email protected] or find me on Facebook and Goodreads. I love to hear from readers – it makes me believe that maybe I am actually a real author!